Swede Police Arrest Minister Slay Suspect
Tuesday September 16, 2003 11:29 PM
By KARL RITTER
Associated Press Writer
STOCKHOLM, Sweden (AP) - Police late Tuesday arrested a suspect in the stabbing death of Foreign Minister Anna Lindh, after issuing an international alert with the photo of the attacker, a spokeswoman told The Associated Press.
The suspect was described as a Swedish man, but wasn't further identified. He was detained in near a restaurant in Solna, a suburb of the capital, Stockholm, police spokeswoman Stina Wessling told The Associated Press.
Police said that the suspect looks similar to the picture that was circulating and they were trying to determine if it's the same person.
When asked if the arrested man was the one in the pictures, police spokesman Leif Jennekvisthe said the suspect was ``not entirely different.''
The suspect will undergo DNA testing to see if his matches genetic material recovered from a baseball cap found near the scene. Police also recovered DNA from the knife, but the amount was too small for immediate use and was still undergoing processing.
``It was not a dramatic arrest,'' she said, adding that plain clothes officers arrested the unarmed Swede without incident.
Jennekvist said two other men were taken in for questioning, but were not considered suspects in the attack. He added that family members of the suspect they arrested were also questioned by police.
Jennekvist said that the man arrested wasn't the only person being pursued in the investigation.
``We have at least five people of high interest that we will check,'' he said.
Police released photos of a man who they said matched witnesses' descriptions of the person who attacked Lindh, a crime that shocked the country and cast a shadow over Sunday's referendum on whether to adopt the euro.
Most Swedish papers published photos in Monday's editions from the surveillance camera at the Nordiska Kompaniet department store showing the suspected attacker clad in a baseball cap and gray hooded Nike sweat shirt. Police also circulated photos to other countries via police agencies Europol and Interpol.
Earlier, police said they had completed a profile of the murderer, but declined to release details. They also said the search was in an ``intensive stage.''
Police spokesman Lars Groenskog told AP an arrest warrant had been issued but declined to if it was issued for a man who was captured on video by surveillance cameras at the department store where Lindh was stabbed in the stomach, chest and arms last Wednesday.
In Finland, investigators said they were examining surveillance footage from several ferries that make daily runs between Sweden and Finland, and border police were on the lookout for the suspect.
Danish police said they were on alert for the suspect, too.
Swedish news agency TT, citing a police source, said the man being sought was 35 and had been convicted of illegally owning a knife, as well as theft and vandalism. The news agency said the man, whom it didn't identify, spent eight months in jail for aggravated fraud.
The news agency also reported that the man didn't have a permanent home and had been moving around Stockholm. Citing court records, TT said the man claimed to have problems with alcohol and cocaine abuse.
Lindh's murder overshadowed Tuesday's opening of parliament, where lawmakers, government officials and royalty headed into the modern chamber for the first session since the slaying.
The speaker of the Riksdag, Bjoern von Sydow, told lawmakers that Lindh's killing had sent an icy wind sweeping over Sweden.
``The cold from that wind still has us in its grip. But despite the dark that has happened, her memory should be bright,'' he said at the session, which was opened by King Carl XVI Gustaf. Prime Minister Goeran Persson was set to deliver a speech later in the afternoon.
Authorities have said the attack did not appear to be politically motivated, though Lindh, who did not have bodyguards, was a prominent supporter of adopting the single European currency. Swedish voters overwhelmingly rejected the euro in Sunday's referendum.
An invitation-only memorial for Lindh planned by her Social Democratic Party was scheduled for Friday at Stockholm City Hall, and leaders from Britain, Finland, Norway and Denmark said they would attend. Foreign ministers from other countries had been invited, including U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell.